Right now, we’re getting a pretty good preview on the upcoming 4.3 patch for World of Warcraft. Of course, the biggest thing is that this patch will allow players to finally down Deathwing, who is the end boss of Catacylsm, of course. Leading up to Death Wing will be some uber raid bosses along with three new instances, similar in a way to how WOTLK had three instances that set the stage for the final encounter at the Ice Citadel. Along with this new content, we will see the Transmorgrification aspect making its debut, Void Storage and a new zone dedicated to the Dark Moon Faire.
In looking at this patch, my interpretation is that most of the content here is designed almost exclusively for high end raiders. Obviously, Deathwing is a major challenge and something that has been on everyone’s minds since the release as he is the primary adversary in the game at this moment. The three instances will probably be designed to allow people to gear up quickly just like WOTLK and how the revamped troll raids provided gear to allow people to start raiding. By introducing these three new instances though, more than likely the older raids will probably be nerfed and seldom worked on, if history has demonstrated.
The transmorgrification in all honesty is just about bling. They’re toting it as something that allows players to further customize the look of their toons. Of course, part of the purpose is for people to possible return to old raids and instances to pick up loot, making that content somewhat valuable again. Alternatively, players who have managed to hold on to their gear could use them for enhancing (or going retro) their gear’s appearance.
Void Storage seems to be partly along the lines of transmorgrification in that people who have played for a long time and are running out of bank space can in theory pay for more bank space. The cost is said to be low, but the screenshots may indicate otherwise.
At any rate, the features presented here seem to cater towards long time players and high end raiders. So the only possible interesting aspect for other players is the Dark Moon Faire zone. This zone apparently can provide some goodies and profession improvements. There’s not a lot of details on the goodies, but it sounds like more grinding.
I personally am hoping that there’s still room for Blizzard to consider solo players beyond the Dark Moon Faire. Patch 4.2 introduced a nice alternative to raiding for solo players wishing to gear up through the various dailies in the Firelands. The grind fest for the Firelands for me at least horribly monotonous. That said, it does provide someone like me an alternative from raiding, at least to get some reasonable gear.
On a side note, as I’m developing my own game, I realized that WoW does not have a skill for swimming. Some classes and races (or rather just the Foresaken) have a clear underwater advantage. Yet if you’re a Tauren Paladin, you’ll struggle during any underwater quest. I think if they expand the game any further, they ought to add a new secondary skill for swimming.
Lastly, looking at the way this current patch is being set up and with a lot of people quitting the game (I read something that said around 900k subscriptions had been lost), I have to wonder if there would be any further expansions. A friend of mine mentioned that he heard from the rumormill at Activision that this will be the last expansion. WoWHead had an interview with some Blizzard folk that made it seem that the game’s age is showing.
However, the game still has a fairly large following and with all the work that had been put into our toons, I seriously doubt Blizzard simply can pull the plug at any day (and if they do, I’m certain there will be a nasty lynch mob waiting outside). In talking to a few players, there is an expectation (or hope) that future expansions will come down the line to at least progress people’s levels up to 100. If that were the case, how can a game that is said to be “showing its age” be able to allow for new content? What will it mean to be level 100? What will this allow characters to do?
My interpretation is to keep things fairly simple. Continue allowing people to spend points on their talent trees. Scale hit points and other stats accordingly. Focus on adding new content in the game rather than new ways to play the game. Perhaps, add more races and classes (at least 2 more classes and 2 more races). I wouldn’t mind, for instance, adding more “open raids” like the bosses seen in the Molten Front dailies. I like that idea rather than lock-in, 10 man or 25 man raids.
What about new abilities? Honestly, outside of the same-old, same-old, I can’t see much in terms of new abilities. More than likely anything new would have to be damage, CC, healing, etc. related. Maybe let people own their own siege vehicles. Or add support for NPCs to permanently join one’s group, thus allowing for more solo experiences.